London Underground-style seating could be introduced to Metro trains of the future.
Passengers have given a thumbs-up to the potential seating when new trains are introduced in the years ahead.
More than 3,000 people took part in a consultation exercise on Metro trains organised by Nexus as part of a business case to fund new trains in a £540m investment.
The results will be reviewed by councillors on the North East Combined Authority on Thursday.
They show a preference for linear seating along the sides of trains, similar to modern London Underground.
Passengers say the design allows more space when trains are busy and more room for people using wheelchairs, with children’s buggies, luggage or shopping.
Coun Nick Forbes, lead member for Transport on the North East Combined Authority, said: “We agreed with Nexus that local people should be placed at the heart of our plans for new Metro trains.
“The strength of the response demonstrates how important Metro is to the people and the economy of North East England.”
Tobyn Hughes, managing director of Nexus, said: “We have talked to our passengers early on so that their views can be reflected fully as we complete the business case for trains and approach potential suppliers.
“Metro is the busiest local rail system outside London and our passengers have shown a clear preference for linear seating because of the space and flexibility it provides.”
“There are many other important findings and suggestions from this research about what people want from the detail of train design.
“Because we have involved our passengers now we can challenge potential suppliers to study and respond directly to this research – and to meet and talk to passengers themselves as the design process moves forward.”
Passenger views were gathered through market research by Transport Focus, an online and paper consultation by Nexus itself and an in-depth programme of pop-up labs, passenger-led studies and online engagement tools offered by Open Lab.
Anthony Smith, chief executive of Transport Focus, said: “We spoke to almost 1,000 people through market research and focus groups, to give a very good understanding of what passengers want from Metro trains.
“Our research indicates that perception of space in the train is a key issue for passengers on Metro. While passengers are happy with the ease of getting on and off, trains can become congested and future designs should include features that encourage passengers to move down within the carriages
“Passengers identify the current layout of seats to be a key contributor to a lack of space within Metrocars; linear seating designs are therefore seen to be most suitable for commuters.”
And pupils from six schools were challenged to imagine Metro’s future through a journey made in 2036, with some lucky children spending an ‘imagination day’ of lessons on board a Metrocar.
Nexus says a new fleet of trains is vital to replace the original Metrocars in constant use since 1980.
It would like a decision this year to begin a procurement process that would see new trains enter service after 2021.